The Coolidge Cup

2019 Coolidge Cup championship round debaters Ezra Schrader (left) and Joshua Anumolu (right)

We are happy to say that the 2020 Coolidge Cup is on, but out of concern for the health and safety of competitors, judges, and staff, and to remain in compliance with current restrictions on travel and large gatherings that are in force in the state of Vermont, we are migrating this year’s Coolidge Cup to a slightly shorter, virtual format. We are sad that we will not be able to see you in person, but we are very excited about the “virtual” Coolidge Cup experience that we have put together! If you received a bid to the tournament, then you have also received our email announcement with the registration link for the tournament. Please follow that link to confirm your participation in this year’s Coolidge Cup.



The Coolidge Cup is a national debate tournament sponsored by the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation. Debaters qualify through various preliminary competitions across the country for a chance to compete in the Coolidge Cup tournament, held in President Coolidge’s historic hometown of Plymouth, Vermont. The tournament takes place each year during the week of the Fourth of July. More than $15,000 in scholarship prize money will be awarded to the top finishers. The key dates in the Coolidge Cup process are:

  • September to May: Debaters qualify for the Coolidge Cup via various tournaments nationally
  • May: The resolution for the Coolidge Cup is posted online
  • Sunday, June 7th: Deadline for debaters to register for the Coolidge Cup
  • Tuesday, June 23rd: Coolidge Cup preview / Q&A webinar with Dr. Ben Voth at 8pm ET (link to the videorecording, password is “2u*&T506” without the quotation marks)
  • Wednesday, June 24th: Coolidge Cup Topic Talk / Q&A webinar with Prof. Ed Glaeser at 1pm ET (link to the recording, password is “0E?A0$+&” without the quotation marks)
  • Thursday, July 2nd: Welcome session for everyone (link to the recording, password is “0Y$+%102” without the quotation marks)

Below is the most up-to-date schedule for the 2020 Coolidge Cup (also available as a PDF):



Cohort, Time, and Room Assignments

The cohort, time, and room assignments for each competitor for the preliminary round are now available! See the PDF below. Be sure to check back the morning of the event to make sure that your assignments have not changed.

Time and Room Assignments – FRIDAY


To compete in the Coolidge Cup, debaters must qualify either through a designated preliminary competition or through the Coolidge Cup application process, which includes a video submission. Over 90 debaters will compete at the Coolidge Cup. All Coolidge Cup competitors must be in grades 9-12 during the 2019-2020 academic year.

How to Qualify

The Coolidge Cup is an invitational tournament. To earn an invitation, debaters must be a top placer in one of our Qualifying Tournaments, which includes our multiple online competitions. The one other way to receive an invitation is to have been an Octofinalist at the previous year’s Coolidge Cup.

How to Register Once You Have Qualified

If you have earned an invitation to the Coolidge Cup and you have accepted it by notifying Debate Director Jared Rhoads, then your next step to confirming your spot is to fill out the 2020 Coolidge Cup Registration Form. Registration is now closed.


A total of $15,500 in scholarship prizes will be awarded at the 2020 Coolidge Cup. For the Coolidge Cup, the prizes are: 1st place $2,500, 2nd place $1,500, 3rd and 4th places $1,000 each, 5th through 8th places $750 each, and 9th through 16th places $500 each.

Also, for the first time ever we will hold an additional declamation contest open exclusively to Coolidge Cup competitors, during the tournament. Choose one speech from a set of provided speeches by Calvin Coolidge and record a video of yourself delivering it. The top 10 video entries will all receive cash awards, with the winner receiving a $1,000 prize! This additional declamation contest is optional, but we encourage you to give it a try. (Note: The set of speeches to choose from will be announced and made available at the start of the tournament.)

Tournament Format

On Thursday, July 2nd, all competitors will join an evening video conference in which they will be welcomed to the Coolidge Cup and they will receive their time/room assignments for the following day.

Every competitor will prepare and deliver both an Affirmative Constructive and Negative Constructive speech. These will be judged by a panel of judges and will serve as the preliminary round. In one “round” you will give one 7-minute speech in favor of the resolution. In another “round” later that day you will give another 7-minute speech opposing the resolution. (So you’ll need to research and write two original speeches.) This part of the competition will take place on Friday, July 3rd.

The top 32 competitors based on speech score will move on to the elimination portion of the tournament. Each of these competitors will deliver their same Affirmative Constructive and Negative Constructive speeches once more in front of a larger, different set of judges. The top four competitors after this round will be selected to move on to a semi-final round of debate and a final championship round of debate. (All debate will be done in the Coolidge Debate Format.) This part of the competition will take place on Saturday, July 4th.

Speech/Debate Format and Style

At the Coolidge Cup, debaters representing a diverse array of formats come to compete against each other. We attract students from Congress, Parli, Lincoln-Douglas, Public Forum, Policy, World Schools, and more. At the Coolidge Cup, debaters compete in a one-on-one format that we call the Coolidge Debate Format (1v1). The Coolidge Cup Debate Guide provides details about the format, style, and rules of the Coolidge Cup. A few weeks before the tournament, we will hold a conference call that is open to all debaters and their coaches. That is a great time to ask questions about the format and what to expect with regard to judging, and so forth.

For the 2020 Coolidge Cup, in order to better fit with the online format, the preliminary rounds will be done as a speech competition in which each competitor delivers his or her Affirmative Constructive and Negative Constructive speeches in front of a panel of judges. The time limit for these speeches is 7 minutes.

Note: If you make it past the first speech round, you may deliver the same speeches in the second round. You may make changes if you wish, but you do not need an entirely new speech. In the second round, all of your judges will be different from the judges you had in the first round.

Resolution & Research Brief

The resolution for the 2020 Coolidge Cup is: “Resolved: The benefits of the shutdown of the U.S. economy due to the coronavirus are worth the costs.”

Download the Research Brief.

Volunteer to Judge at the Coolidge Cup

The Coolidge Foundation highly values the idea of the “citizen judge,” as we believe that good debating and good communication should be aimed at making a logical case that any person can understand. Volunteer judges do not need any prior experience in debate or debate judging. If you are interested in judging, take a look at our Information for Coolidge Cup Judges. We offer all the judge training you need in order to judge. If you are interested in judging, please Register to Judge the Coolidge Cup.


2018 Coolidge Cup winners with Robert L. Luddy, Maria Luddy, Ben Voth, and Jared Rhoads